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Institutional Configurations Around Forest Reserves in Zimbabwe

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Matose, Frank
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1563
Sector: Forestry
Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
forest management
institutional analysis--case studies
value
institutional change
social networks
Abstract: "This paper examines how institutions mediate values placed on different forest resources by forest users. It focuses on the key question: how do the situated practices of different actors, collectively or as individuals influence relations between the State and local people? It also examines how the institutional configurations in different contexts may influence the development of co-management; which institutional contexts produce which sets of relations, with what implications for forest management. In considering the role institutions play in mediating access to forest resources around reserves in Zimbabwe, the paper addresses the ways in which different people's actions are constrained by institutions (structure) and in turn how actors change the nature of institutions through their actions. This conceptualisation draws from Giddens (1984). Taking Giddens approach renders the notion of 'community' rather unhelpful in explaining the practices of different actors in situations where the State is dominant. The institutional approach taken in the paper, which gives emphasis to the situated behaviour of agents or individuals, and how this shapes the nature of resource regulations and organisations, is argued to be more relevant for circumstances obtaining in and around forest reserves. By virtue of focusing on rules in use (after Ostrom, 1990) around forest reserves, the paper offers an opportunity to look critically at institutions and authority systems (Robins, 1998) around a state property regime from the perspectives of the social practices of different users and user groups. In this paper then, it will be demonstrated how access to forest resources for different users/actors is gained through informal and formal institutions and authority systems. This has implications for how certain forest users/actors gain access to certain resources. Some resources end up being accessed through covert means while others are accessed overtly, thereby contributing to the development of different types of relationship between forest authorities and resource users. The nature of these relations, and the embedded struggles over resource use linked to them has implications for joint forest management by forestry officials and different local people."

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